Located halfway between the Great Smoky Mountains and the beaches of the Atlantic, Durham is home to over 300 restaurants, more than 40 annual festivals, Duke and North Carolina Central universities, Durham Bulls Triple-A baseball, art and science museums, and world-class medical facilities. The cities of Durham, Chapel Hill and Raleigh, known as The Triangle, are a nucleus for many startups and a vibrant hub for innovation and technology.

Located between these three cities is Research Triangle Park (RTP), one of the most prominent high-tech research and development centers in the United States. Created in 1959 by state and local governments, nearby universities, and local business interests, the park covers 7,000 acres (2,833 ha) situated in a pine forest with 22,500,000 square feet (2,090,318 m2) of built space. Today, more than 170 major research and development companies including Bayer, GlaxoSmithKline, IBM, Underwriters Laboratories, and government agencies such as the EPA employ more than 39,000 full-time employees in RTP.